Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during a practice session while coach Craig Tyzzer watches on. Picture: AAP
Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during a practice session while coach Craig Tyzzer watches on. Picture: AAP

Barty must drain Czech’s power game, say greats

GRAND slam greats Martina Navratilova and Kim Clijsters believe Ashleigh Barty has the repertoire to extend a whirlwind Australian Open campaign, but warn the Queenslander faces a huge mental battle against Czech Petra Kvitova.

Barty, 22, will contest her first major quarter-final against the explosive Kvitova on Tuesday evening, who is in fearsome form - and is yet to lose to the Australian.

Navratilova urged Barty to find a way to take time away from Kvitova, whose devastating serve and lacerating groundstrokes have carted her into the last eight without dropping serve.

"The way Petra served the other day it's going to be a hard one," Navratilova warned.

"The match is on Petra's racquet, she's got the game to beat just about anybody when she's on so Ash has to somehow neutralise the power and mix it up.

"But she's got the shots to bother Petra and break up her rhythm so we'll see.

"Ash has got to come to the net and somehow take the time away from Petra."

Barty has faced dual Wimbledon champion Kvitova three times and is yet to win.

Ashleigh Barty is the first Aussie through to the Australian Open women's quarter-finals in a decade. Picture: David Caird
Ashleigh Barty is the first Aussie through to the Australian Open women's quarter-finals in a decade. Picture: David Caird

But two of their clashes have gone the distance, most recently in the Sydney final two weeks ago, when a third-set tiebreak was required.

Navratilova says Barty has "a game to bother anybody and she's fit and she's rising to the occasion."

Clijsters, the 2011 Melbourne Park champion, also says Barty has the arsenal to become the first local to win the Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

The Belgian says the sole query is how the laid-back Queenslander adapts to the pressure of quarter-final combat and beyond.

"Everything has to fall into place," Clijsters said.

"She has the tennis that can do it but unfortunately it's not just the tennis that is important to win a grand slam.

Ashleigh Barty with kids from the Goolum Goolum Aboriginal co-operative in regional Victoria before her practice session. Picture: David Caird
Ashleigh Barty with kids from the Goolum Goolum Aboriginal co-operative in regional Victoria before her practice session. Picture: David Caird

"It's everything, physically, mentally, emotionally. Everything has to fall into place and you have to play your best tennis when it's needed.

"To some players, they need a little bit longer to get into that situation. They need more moments of getting to the quarters, semis of a grand slam to get used to that extra little pressure.

"And some go fine with it.

"You saw Naomi Osaka, (Jelena) Ostapenko at the French Open. Some deal with it fine.

"I think she has the tennis to do it and we'll see if she will be able to manage it mentally and physically.

Clijsters, who returned to tennis after starting a family to win three more majors from 2009, believes Barty has benefited from her sabbatical from the game to play cricket.

"I think it was a very, very smart choice for her to get away from it and realise how much she loves the sport," she said.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during a practice session while coach Craig Tyzzer observes. Picture: AAP
Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during a practice session while coach Craig Tyzzer observes. Picture: AAP

"And that's what you see the result of now.

"Ashleigh is a girl who I've enjoyed watching already for a few years and when she took that little break, I think it was necessary mentally to kind of get away from the sport for a little bit and everything else around it.

"She is more hungry than ever.

"She feels comfortable on court and is playing really, really good tennis.

"She's staying calm, she got a little bit nervous at the end against Maria there but that's normal.

"I'm excited to see what playing here in Australia with the crowd will do when she gets onto court."

TALE OF THE TAPE

ASH BARTY (Queensland) V PETRA KVITOVA (Czech REPUBLIC)

ASH BARTY

Age: 22

Height: 165cm

Weight: 62kg

Lives: Ipswich

Ranking: 15

Career titles: 3

Grand Slam titles: 0

Coach: Craig Tyzzer

PETRA KVITOVA

Age: 28

Height: 183cm

Weight: 70kg

Lives: Monte Carlo

Ranking: 6

Career titles: 26

Grand Slam titles: 2

Coach: Jiri Vanek

HEAD TO HEAD

Kvitova leads 3-0

Last meeting - Sydney International final, January 2019. Kvitova won 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3).

News Corp Australia


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